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Southern Caramel Cake

Southern Caramel Cake is a fabulously rich and decadent cake with tons of super sweet icing. This is a cake that will make any occasion memorable.

Southern Caramel Cake

As a child it seems like whenever I went to my grandmother’s house, which was often for a holiday or special occasion, there was always a caramel cake. They were never made by her. I don’t think she baked anything in her entire life, but she had lots of friends who loved to bake and they were constantly bringing her food gifts. Pound Cake and Caramel Cake were the two regulars.

Southern Caramel Cake - moist vanilla cake slathered with lots of ultra-sweet caramel icing.

I fell in love with the icing on a Caramel Cake at a very young age. It is as sweet as sweet can be. Sometimes I would just eat the icing and leave the cake part because it can tend to be a little dry and bland.

But this Southern Caramel Cake from Southern Cakes: Sweet and Irresistible Recipes for Everyday Celebrationshas two delicious and moist cake layers, with a lighter texture than many caramel cakes. And a fabulously sweet icing. Lots of it!

Because it’s all about the icing.


I actually didn’t intend for it to have this much icing, but both my cake layers collapsed slightly in the middle (I think I opened the oven door too many times to check on them.) and I didn’t have a sharp enough serrated knife to even out the top. I probably should have just flipped them over and had the bottom be the top. But my mind must have been so fixated on the icing that I wasn’t thinking straight.

Southern Caramel Cake- moist vanilla cake with lots of ultra-sweet caramel icing.

Instead I had to let a ton of frosting pool in the middle to flatten out the top. So it was necessary to make a second batch of icing to cover the sides. Not neccesarily a bad thing.  😉

Warning: If you don’t have a serious sweet tooth, this is not the cake for you.

Southern Caramel Cake - moist, vanilla cake with lots of ultra-sweet caramel icing.

You might also like this Hummingbird Cake. Check it out in the video below!


Southern Caramel Cake

Southern Caramel Cake

Southern Caramel Cake is a fabulously rich and decadent cake with tons of super sweet icing. This is a cake that will make any occasion memorable.
PREP: 40 mins
COOK: 30 mins
TOTAL: 1 hr 10 mins



  • 3/4 cup butter (1 1/2 sticks)
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
  • 2 3/4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Caramel Icing

  • One box light brown sugar (1-pound)
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 7 tablespoons evaporated milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract


  • Make the cake. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease and flour 2 9-inch cake pans.
  • In a small saucepan, cook the butter and milk over low heat until the butter melts. Stir well and let cool to room temperature.
  • In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, and salt.
  • Using an electric mixer, beat eggs and sugar on high speed until light yellow and smooth.
  • Stir the flour mixture into the egg mixture just until combined.
  • Add the cooled milk mixture and vanilla and stir well.
  • Divide the batter between the two pans and bake 25 to 30 minutes, or until cake springs back when touched lightly in the middle.
  • Place pans on a wire rack and let cool 10 minutes. Remove cakes from pans and let cool completely on racks.
  • Make icing. In a medium saucepan with a heavy bottom, combine the brown sugar, butter, evaporated milk, and vanilla extract. Bring to boil over medium-high heat. Stir well and turn heat down so mixture boils gently. Cook for 7 minutes. Let cool for 5 minutes.
  • Beat the icing with a wooden spoon for 2 to 3 minutes to thicken.
  • Place bottom layer on a platter or cake stand. Working quickly before icing sets up, spread icing on top. Place second layer on top. Ice the top and sides. A knife dipped in hot water can help smooth the icing out.


If icing becomes too hard while you are spreading it, place it over low heat and whisk in another tablespoon or two of evaporated milk until smooth.
I actually made more icing than the recipe calls for. My cakes were a little sunken in the middle once they cooled and I didn't have a sharp enough serrated knife to even the top of the cake out. Because of this, a lot of my icing pooled in the middle and I needed more.
If you think you need extra, add another 1 1/3 cups brown sugar, 4 tablespoons butter, and 3 1/2 tablespoons evaporated milk. Plus a little extra vanilla if you desire.


Calories: 509kcal
Author: Christin Mahrlig
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: Southern

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Recipe Source: Southern Cakes: Sweet and Irresistible Recipes for Everyday Celebrations

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86 thoughts on “Southern Caramel Cake”

  1. Laura Gonya

    Cake was amazing, moist, fantastic flavor. Baked perfectly, never sank like some of them do. My only issue was the icing, very grainy. Followed directions, even added a little extra milk to help with the texture, but that did not help any. I love to bake and carmel has become my new favorite, so I’m keeping the cake recipe and ditching the icing,… to long to make, to grainy and way to disappointing.

  2. I followed this recipe to the letter and found the cake to be very dry. It tastes like stale pound cake. Next time I’ll add 3 tbsp sour cream to the batter to see if that’ll make it softer and more moist. Otherwise it’s back to square one for a good caramel cake recipe.

  3. I’ve made this cake two Saturdays in a row! Last weekend was a test…it worked. Just made the second one to take for our family Easter dinner. Thanks so much – it is delicious!

    1. Christin Mahrlig

      I’m not sure Cathy. Was it a humid day? Usually cakes rise and then fall when there is too much moisture.

      1. Usually it’s because you are using too much leavening. Try using 1/2 of the callout. This can also be a “high altitude” problem. The cake rises too quickly and then sinks because it’s not quite done in the center. Look at “high altitude” baking theory on-line and it will give you some great tips for better baking results even if your not at a higher altitude. J

    2. Instead of all purpose use self rising I made it the first time like the recipe then I went back and change my flour

  4. This reminds me of my childhood because I think that’s the last time I had this cake. I loved the carmel frosting so much. My mom made it once in awhile which made it special. She I believe used a white cake. I will be trying this very soon. Thanks for the memories.

  5. This recipe didn’t work for me at all. I followed it to the letter and the cake was dry And the icing never hardened. Had to throw the whole thing away……????

    1. I made this cake.it was awaful.dry th the cake was dry.an the caramel was grainy. U could taste the sugar. I threw the whole cake way.

  6. Just made this using a box cake mix but substituting milk and butter for the water and oil. Icing recipe was perfect and just enough to ice the two layer cake. Can’t wait to try it.

  7. I’m going to make this cake !! My Grandmother made these. Out of this world GOOD! Never got the recipe from her.. Wish me luck !!

  8. I had to take a peek at the recipe since I make one that’s been handed down for generations. I may try this one to compare. I’ve found it interesting each time I see brown sugar used. However, I like the idea of mixing it all together and bringing it to a boil.

  9. please, do you have a recipe for Peanut butter frosting that hardens ? My husband would think he was in heaven !! Thank you in advance !! I’d love to make it for his birthday in September . . . . Im planning in advance !! Mary Jo Fair

  10. I live in the north east and maybe that is the reason why….but I had to add 15 minutes to bake time. I was touching the centre and it was def not rising back at 30 minutes. Having said that, I have made this cake twice to rave reviews. Love it! Thanks so much for this great recipe!!

  11. I made this last week and my family inhaled it… The icing is perfect. Only problem, my cakes were so sunken in the middle, like collapsed souffles. (Looks like you had some of this trouble, too.) I leveled them off with a serrated knife. Lots of scraps. I’d like to find a scratch cake recipe with the same flavor but without the structural problems.

  12. laura noria

    Instead of evaporated milk, for the icing, can we use another ingredient??? te recipie looks tasty, and I would like to try it.

    atte, laura (uruguay)

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